A DRAMATIC Bradford Open on Sunday saw veteran Richard Wheatley beat last year's winner Calum Hey and James Darcy by one stroke, shooting a three-under par 68.

On a tension-filled day at Northcliffe Golf Club, the tournament had to be reduced from 36 to 18 holes due to the terrible weather, with a long delay nearly scuppering the chances of the victor.

Bradford Golf Club star Wheatley laughed: "It's not bad for an old-timer. I turned 41 on Friday so it was a good birthday present.

"I was on the 13th and leading by two on four under when we came in at lunch, so I knew I had a chance.

"But with the long rain delay, they reduced it to 18 holes and suddenly I had that lead with a few holes left.

"Of course I came back out and made a double bogey on 13 to drop back to two under.

"I nearly made birdies on 14 and 15, then a 3-wood, 6-iron and 20 foot putt for birdie put me in front on 16.

"I hit the ball into the trees on 17, but then ended up only just missing a birdie putt.

"On 18, my approach spun back off the front of the green to the lip of the bunker. I stabbed the ball up from an awful lie, and that left me with a difficult 15 footer to win the tournament.

"But I hit my best putt in god knows how long, straight into the middle of the cup."

A delighted Wheatley, who is from Guiseley but now lives in East Morton, added: "I've been trying to win the Bradford Open since I was 16 and I've had more second places than I can remember.

"I won the Amateur Strokeplay by four shots in 2019, and for me, they're both the same in the sense that they're the two tournaments in the Union you want to win.

"There is the Bradford Amateur Matchplay too, but with my job as a pilot, it's tough to arrange matchplay practice.

"I have an understanding wife, so I have been playing golf a lot over the last year, with flights being stop start.

"I've got myself to a +5 handicap (below scratch), which I'm happy with."

Wheatley used to play professionally and asked if that gave him an extra edge in the nervy Bradford Open finale, he said: "I do think it helps a bit, as I 'd had putts like that one on 18 before.

"It's a cliche, but it's just a case of doing what you've practised, making sure things seem to be working, and that it goes in the hole."

A good home course helps any golfer, and Wheatley enthused: "The Bradford course is in mega condition.

"It's out of this world really, the best in the area by far.

"The club professional Andy Hall is awesome in allowing me to use his space when I need to practise too.

"The place and the people there have helped me progress a lot."

As for what's next, Wheatley said: "I've got a few more tournaments coming up, at Oakdale, Bingley St Ives and Harrogate, and the Yorkshire Open at Alwoodley.

"There's the Birkdale Goblet at Royal Birkdale too, which is a really good 36-hole competition. I love it there.

"I'm hoping the Bradford Open win acts as a good launching pad for the rest of the season now."